London College of Fashion, UAL has announced the launch of a new exhibition entitled Carving Time, featuring the work of artist Tarek from Za’Atari Refugee Camp, Jordan.
Tarek, a former construction worker from Daraa, Syria, fled to Za’atari in 2012 along with his wife and five children. During his time at the refugee camp there, he began fashioning jewellery pieces from everyday objects found around the camp.
Professor Helen Storey, a social artist and designer, noticed Tarek’s creations during her time working in Za’Atari.
In January 2019, Storey was made Za’atari’s first ever UNHCR Artist in Residence, a reflection of UNHCR and London College of Fashion’s “long-term commitment to supporting innovative, art and cultural livelihood projects in Zaatari”.
Storey and Tarek then worked together throughout the year “developing a unique collection of artefacts and jewellery including pencils, whose lead is carved into fine chain earrings, and a broom, which along the length of its handle depicts Tarek’s entire life in carving, from his birth to his arrival in Za’atari.”
Tarek said: “I dreamed of sculpture and drawing during my childhood – this craft is a way to express my inner world and to pass the time. I consider myself an amateur and try my best to be an artist the world notices.”
Every one of his pieces takes between 1.5 days to 1.5 months to carve, with intricate and small details making each creation unique. Tarek’s individually carved objects and jewellery will be available to buy for the first time when the curated House of Hatton exhibition opens.
Alongside his own work, he has also collaborated with “environmentally conscious” London based jeweller Bleue Burnham, creating a unisex ring entitled the ‘Together ring’. Made from recycled gold and silver, the ring features two hands shaking with cuff details on either side. The ring will be sold exclusively at Matches.com and Whitebird Paris from mid-November.
Irene Omondi, the UNHCR Za’Atari camp manager, said: “Supporting the creativeness in refugees is an important factor to promote their stories and dreams.
“Many talented refugees are waiting for a chance to show their work to the world. Thanks to the collaboration between UNHCR and London College of Fashion, UAL for providing this opportunity to Tarek. Refugees artists need creative solutions to support their livelihood”
The exhibition will take place at House of Hatton in Hatton Garden, and run between Thursday 7 November and Friday 20 December 2020.